Virtual events have been growing in popularity for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has firmly solidified the shift from in-person events to hybrid and virtual offerings. Even as the pandemic eases in many areas, this digital-first mindset is unlikely to change.
That’s because virtual events allow for global reach, reduced costs for attendees, and innovative ways to engage with audiences. They also often receive praise for their accessibility features and their reduced environmental impact.
While virtual events can seem to differ from in-person events in many ways, they still have all the traditional components attendees are used to. These include keynote speeches, panel discussions, networking, and—of course—sponsorships. But while some aspects of events require no adaptation when shifting from in-person to virtual, securing sponsorship for virtual events can require new ways of thinking.
The upside, however, is that the flexibility and dynamism of virtual events allow you to offer a diverse slate of offerings to sponsors—and to guarantee them more visibility. Here’s how you can integrate sponsors into virtual and hybrid events.
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Why are sponsors important for virtual events?
The last two years haven’t just forced companies to learn how to bring people together when they’re far apart, they’ve also had a significant impact on the economics of business. And the reality is that while many companies are still hosting events, the budgets for those events have declined. However, sponsorships are a way for organizations to expand the resources available for their virtual and hybrid events and generate immediate revenue.
But while financially important, sponsors don’t just help to fund events. They are also a key draw for attendees. Along with speakers, sponsors often serve as a barometer of event quality and help potential attendees evaluate the significance of any particular event offering.
What are virtual event sponsors looking for?
To attract the right logos for your event, you must keep in mind what’s at stake for your potential partners. At the core, sponsors are looking for a return on their sponsorship investment. Their specific goals usually represent a mix of gaining brand awareness and getting access to your event attendees.
In order to convince sponsors that your virtual event is the right venue for them, you will need to demonstrate—in detail—how you’ll help them achieve those goals.
There are three key factors you’ll want to focus on as you make your pitch to potential sponsors:
- Virtual booths generally provide sponsors with access to more people than traditional in-person booths
- Virtual event sponsorships can produce much more detailed and far more actionable data than traditional in-person events
- Virtual events platforms provide a range of creative opportunities to reach mass audiences and lift brand awareness through various branded placements
How can you maximize visibility for sponsors at virtual events?
You probably already know that sponsors want much more than a logo somewhere on your virtual event page. That doesn’t inspire traffic, nor does it provide true return on investment. Rather, your sponsors need opportunities to connect directly with attendees to deliver content that will make an impression.
There are several ways to create those opportunities in a virtual events platform, all of which can be integrated into different tiers of sponsorship packages that you can make available at various price points.
Some of the offerings to concentrate on include:
- A dedicated space for the sponsor where they can be introduced to your attendees is essential. This needs to come with a steady influx of visitors, meaningful data & analytics, and opportunities for follow-up with all visitors. The virtual sponsor booth allows a sponsor to provide an overview of their business and to distribute multimedia content to attendees, like videos, whitepapers, and pricing sheets.
- The ability for sponsors to host live sessions in virtual booths that feature audience engagement can also offer compelling results. These sessions can be scheduled as part of your event agenda, or you can offer sponsors virtual meeting rooms that attendees can attend throughout your event. In these rooms, sponsors can deliver talks, demos, or host Q&As face-to-face.
- Integrating branding opportunities with your virtual event content is likely to appeal to your biggest sponsors. Consider allowing a sponsor to brand a keynote address or other standout session. For on-demand videos, you can create sponsored video players or integrate sponsor ads at any point in your content. Additionally, fully-customizable platforms like Kaltura Virtual Events allow you to add banner ads throughout the UI, which you can then offer as part of a sponsorship package.
But how can you ensure that attendees will actually visit sponsor booths and engage with sponsor content? Here are some ways you can seamlessly integrate sponsors into your agenda and overall event:
- Pre-scheduled notifications to remind attendees of sponsor activities and programming
- On-the-fly notifications to help boost traffic to sponsors if attendance momentum is slow
- Pre- and post-event content with sponsors, including workshops and trainings
- Giveaways linked to sponsor event participations.
What data can you offer to virtual event sponsors?
A major advantage of virtual events is the massive amount of first-party data that you’re able to generate. This attendee data and the resultant insights can be invaluable to your company in your post-event follow-up. Similarly, sponsors can leverage the same type of data to identify prospects and high-intent attendees.
Virtual event sponsors will expect rapid access to data—whether that’s live, at the end of each day, or at the end of the event. Analytics will not only help sponsors identify their best prospects quickly, but will also allow them to pivot if certain messaging and events are not generating the desired results. Sponsors will be particularly compelled by data that can tell them things like:
- What virtual content was the most viewed
- Which attendees watched the most content
- Which attendees were most engaged with their virtual booth
- What attendee sentiment was (based on emoji reaction data in virtual chatrooms) during live sessions
Virtual Event Sponsors: The Takeaway
The dynamism of virtual events platforms makes sponsorship a ROI win-win for all parties involved. Not only are organizers able to generate immediate revenue and offer sponsors more diverse options, but sponsors get greater visibility and access to data that simply doesn’t exist when it comes to in-person events.
See examples of sponsor packages in our on-demand webinar.